Limits to Accommodating Self-Represented Practitioners

Courts are, justifiably, quite concerned about the plight of litigants appearing at hearings without legal assistance. Courts have imposed a number of duties on tribunals including an ongoing duty to explain the process and ensure that the party is able to fully participate. Tribunals even have some obligation to raise legal concerns that a party may not appreciate. However, Courts do not view these accommodations as unlimited.

For example, in Hill v College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario, 2018 ONSC 5833, <http://canlii.ca/t/hvd70> the physician was without legal counsel for the hearing itself. The Court upheld the decision of the hearing panel to exclude expert evidence tendered by the physician where the expert witness was not available for cross-examination. The Court also supported the panel’s decision to exclude irrelevant good character evidence of the physician at the hearing of finding. Additionally, the Court found that there was no duty of the panel to then consider the previously excluded (but perhaps now relevant) evidence on the issue of penalty when the physician did not attend the penalty portion of the hearing. The panel was commended for providing many procedural accommodations (including multiple adjournments), but was not required to accommodate the physician on substantive law.

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